Cross of War - Assassin's Creed: Templars #9 REVIEW
Assassin's Creed: Templars #9
Writer & Artist: Dennis Calero
One part of my review schtick is that I believe that it is totally ok for me to review a comic arc or limited series even if I have not been on that comic for the issues before. It reflects reality. Because sometimes, having missed an arc or limited series, I might have a whim to check out that last issue. If it's good enough, I go back and read the past issues. Or maybe I pick up that arc or limited in trade. Sometimes you grab a book in haste and just don't know that it was the last issue. It happens.
Such is the case with Assassin's Creed: Templars #9, as this was the fourth and last issue of the "Cross of War" storyline. The Assassin's Creed books were one of the gems of 2016 for me. Templars was my preferred title of the two books from Titan Comics, as the character Black Cross was just an awesome. This book bridges from that storyline, following the disappearance of the Black Cross after the communist rebellions in China that culminated in 1949. While this issue inherits story elements from that storyline, it did not inherit any of the other characteristics that immediately gained my fondness.
Assassin's Creed: Templars #9 rounds out an arc where some mystical whosawhatsit is being sought after by both the Templars and the Assassin's. Some clown has found it, both factions want it, and so two murder champions are sent forth by both groups to hopefully resolve the issue between themselves. Ya know, the standard "two men enter, one man leaves" kind of affair.
One any given Sunday, I might have found something I liked in Calero's art. But this week, I am just not feeling it. The artistic style is very subtle. Maybe too subtle. This a general theme for me with this book, but it just does not evoke a response from me. It's fine. Which, in some ways, is perhaps the worst thing I can say about a book. I've gone back and looked at some of the panels and every once in a while, I see a glimmer of something special there, but it fades quickly. I will say that I do like what Calero does with lighting, and he would likely make an incredible colorist, collaborating with someone else. One of the problems I have is that many of the characters seem inconsistent, or very non-descript. One Caucasian character looks very much the same as another. The protagonist in particular I was never able to get a handle on what their appearance was supposed to be. And with the African American male, I often had problems being certain it was supposed to be male or female, and the character just generally looked different in every panel.Fight choreography was also problematic, with those panels that, in sequence, cause you to go "How the hell did they get there from here?!" My general takeaway is that it was a confusing muddle of story-telling that made it tough for me to find purchase and left me feeling like I was always tumbling down the cliff-wall.
The story itself was a bit too existential for me, as well. Now, there is a bit of that element in all of the Assassin's Creed stable of books. It makes sense. The weird "time-travel body-snatcher possession your in the past but taking your own independent action" stuff that is at the core of the whole Assassin's Creed setup...it's trippy. I get it. But this issue seemed to take that thread and run with it a bit too far. Again, leaving me feeling like there was nothing for me to hold on to. It was like that penultimate part of a Kubrick film, the one that degenerates into a bunch of flashing lights, bendy images, non-senscial sounds, and the sudden arrival at some conclusionary assessment by the main character that makes absolutely no sense.
This book might provide you more mileage if you have been on the preceding three issues. Maybe not. I also jumped in on the final chapter of the first Black Cross arc, and, despite not having a frame of reference from the preceding books, I immediately fell in love with that character and the story. But of course, that was with Van Lente at the helm. So, it's not solely because I did not read parts one through three of the Cross of War arc. The end result is that, unless someone tells me differently, I do not see myself going back and reading through those back issues because I did not see something in this issue that would encourage me to do so.
Let's hope the next arc has a bit more grippiness to it. As it is, it's pretty amazing that we're even talking about this book heading for its one-year mark as an ongoing. I had expectations that this licensed property story-line would have been cancelled by now, so apparently it is popular enough to keep its publishing deal going, and that says a lot about a book in this day and age.
Score: 5.5 / 10.0
A confusing mix of seemingly random story-telling that left me with very little to hold on to, nothing that really encourages me to go read the back-issues, and no emotional response to the storyline. There's a glimmer of interest in the art, but it's not the kind that grabs your attention right off the bat.